Famous (and according to some people, overrated) author and vegetarian Jonathan Safran Foer recently interviewed his friend Natalie Portman for The New York Times’ T magazine to promote his upcoming book, Here I Am, and her upcoming directorial debut, A Tale of Love and Darkness. Since Jonathan and Natalie are ~intelligent~ types, they decided to do it through a series of pretentious-sounding emails. If you ever read a GOOP.com newsletter and thought “You know, this would be so much better if it was written by an Oscar-winning actress who also really wants you to know that she went to Harvard“, then these emails are for you.
Jonathan and Natalie are friends, but apparently they don’t write emails like us dum-dums do. Everything is capitalized properly, there’s no LOLs or FMLs, and they’re all long. Also, none of the emails end with a wacky signature, like “Sent from outer space – send help! I’ll die without oxygen out here!” or “Destroy this email before your French ballet dancer husband sees it.” Instead it sounds like they’re practicing for an admission interview to the Prometheus Society. There are so many emails, which you can read here, but here’s a few:
Jonathan on 05/24/16: When The Times suggested this piece, and it became clear we weren’t going to be in the same place for long enough to allow for a traditional profile – me observing you at the farmer’s market, etc., which would have felt ridiculous, anyway – I was happy to think of the lost correspondence being somehow replenished with, or redeemed by, a new exchange.
Natalie on 05/24/16: I’m sure at the beginning of our emailing I was trying too hard to be smart and interesting. Now, of course, I’m comfortable enough to send you videos of a sax-playing walrus. But yes, of course we mainly discuss religion and politics. And don’t forget art! We also talk about art!
Jonathan on 05/24/16: People often refer to aloneness and writer’s block as the two great challenges of being a novelist. In fact, the hardest part is having to care for guinea pigs.
Natalie on 05/26/16: My mother-in-law used the word guinea pig when telling me a story in French yesterday, and it’s “cochon d’inde,” which translates to “pig from India.” Who’s right?
Jonathan on 05/26/16: It’s Thursday, garbage day. One of the garbage days, I should say. Thursday and Sunday are garbage days. Tuesday is garbage and recycling day. Monday and Tuesday are alternate-side parking days, which makes Tuesday – parking, garbage and recycling – a very special day, indeed.
Jonathan on 05/26/16: For the last half a year, we have played a game at dinner called the Wonder Line. If one of the kids can tell me something that generates the experience of wonder – the cocked head, slight nod, raised eyebrow and muttered “hmmm …” — we call it “clearing the Wonder Line.” If they can clear it five times, they get to decide how we end the night, i.e., have ice cream, or watch a Pirates of the Caribbean iteration.
Natalie 05/26/16: What has cleared my Wonder Line recently? Yesterday we saw five bunnies when we left the community pool, and they didn’t clear my Wonder Line, but the look in my son’s eyes definitely did. He also made prolonged eye contact with a horse, during which it was pretty clear they were having some sort of communication. That made me feel wonder.
Natalie 05/26/16: I am woefully lacking ritual in my life, which is among the hardest things and best things about my work. I will never have the boredom or repetitiveness of an office.
Natalie on 05/27-16: An ex-boyfriend of mine used to call me “Moscow,” because he said I was always looking out the window sadly, like “Moscow,” like some Russian novel or Chekhov play.
Jonathan on 05/29/16: Hello from Blue Ridge Summit. All the cousins slept in the same room last night, which required half a dozen new amendments to the Constitution.
Natalie on 05/31/16: Acting is not like music or dance or drawing, where there is clear technique that you need to work obsessively to master, and then your individuality makes you more than just a computer who’s learned a skill…Okay, I gotta go to sleep though there’s some loud Harry Potter music blasting in the house.
Sending emails is their thing; Jonathan and Natalie have been emailing each other regularly for the past ten years. Unfortunately, all of Jonathan’s emails from Natalie mysteriously “disappeared” earlier this year. Which I’m sure had absolutely nothing to do with that rumor about Jonathan allegedly leaving his wife for Natalie. According to Jonathan, it was because he was still using a Hotmail account. Actually, that’s a completely legitimate excuse. I mean, who is still using Hotmail in 2016? I bet Hotmail did that on purpose. The last email he received was from probably from Mr. Hotmail himself and it said “Dear Jonathan. I’m old, just let me retire in Florida already.”
Natalie didn’t just write emails, she also did a moody photoshoot in her underwear too.
Pics: Craig McDean for T